How To Troubleshoot Your Own Computer Problems

Posted on June 29, 2010. Filed under: How To Troubleshoot Your Own Computer Problems, Uncategorized | Tags: |

To start  troubleshooting your computer issues click on Control Panel >Administrative Tools.

Here you will find:  Event Viewer, Computer Management, Services, and Performance Monitor

Event Viewer tracks all events (including errors and problems) on your computer and gives explanations. These log files (system, application, security, administrative) can give a general indication of your computer’s health. You should clear the Event Viewer every so often after you have reviewed it so it doesn’t get too full and difficult to look through. You can save log files before erasing them. Choose Clear All Events to clear.

Computer Management has its own Device Manager and Event Viewer, but it also allows you to manage all of your computer’s Shared Folders, allows you to create and manage User and Group Accounts and shows you how your System Hardware is performing. It will actually alert you if your system performance goes below a threshold you set.

Services is an MMC snap-in that allows you to interact with the services running on your computer. Click on any service to see what it can do for you then right click on the service to stop it or start it.

To add more snap-ins type mmc into the Run box in the Start menu. This opens a console window. Choose File> Add/Remove Snap-In. Then choose from the list and click Add.

Performance Monitor – You can use the Performance Monitor as a general troubleshooting tool as well as a security troubleshooting tool. Try the following exercise to become familiar with this tool:

Start> Settings> Control Panel> Administrative Tools / Performance or Performance Information and Tools / Advanced Tools / Performance Monitor. Open the Performance Logs and Alerts. Click on the Add Counters button (a plus sign) and choose to add the Processor Performance Object. Then expand Processors and Add the% Processor Time counter, and then click Close. Now choose Start> Search For Files and Folders without specifying a specific folder and watch how the performance monitor is affected. Keep this going but click on the histogram (the button to the left of the plus sign) and see how it changes. Now click on report from that same menu and see how it changes again. Exit the Performance monitor.

Task Manager – You can access the task manager by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete or Ctrl + Shift + Esc (try both to see the difference). The Task Manager lets you shut down unresponsive applications. It also allows you to see which processes and applications are using the most system resources, view network usage, see connected users, etc.

In Task Manager your computer may have some or all of the following tabs:

Applications-this tab lets you see which tasks are open and running or not responding. If it is not responding-select the program and click End Task. You can now reopen the program, but if it stalls again you may need to restart the computer.
Processes-you can end processes here, but be careful not to stop critical processes. If you don’t know what a process does you can research it online.
Performance-Here you can keep track of your systems performance. Note how much physical memory you have and how much is available. Also note your CPU usage.
Networking-Shows you the state and performance of your network connection
Users-Shows you all of the users connected to your machine. Right click on any user to send a message, disconnect the user, log off the user and initeate a remote control to the user’s machine

If you are having trouble connecting to the Internet or a Network you can use the Command Prompt to troubleshoot. To access the Command Prompt type cmd or command  in the run box.  The Command prompt is useful because you can run diagnostic utilities from here. They include ping and ipconfig.

Start by Typing IPCONFIG / ALL

This will show you all of your configuration information. If the network cable is disconnected, it will tell you. If your IP address is you’re not going to connect to anything. An address starting with 169.254 is an address Microsoft automatically assigns if a DHCP server cannot be found; while this can allow you to connect to a network, it will not allow Internet access.

If you can’t connect try the following:

1. Type IPCONFIG / RELEASE (to release the current IP address)

2. Type IPCONFIG / RENEW (Obtains a new IP address) It doesn’t matter if the number is the same-you effectively reset your IP address

3. Type PING  typeYourIPaddressHere or your computers host name

If you can not make a connection to the remote host you will get back the following: Request timed out. Some Internet sites block pings, so be sure to use a site that you know accepts them. To troubleshoot further do the following:

4. Type TRACERT  typeYourIPaddressHere or hostname

This will trace the route between your computer and the destination computer and can help determine where the breakdown is.

Next thing to do is disconnect your modem and router and turn off your computer. Wait a minute. Connect your modem and router and turn on your computer. Try connecting again.

Sometimes you will need to edit the registry to fix a problem.  To edit the Registry type REGEDIT or REGEDT32-These work similarly, but have slightly different options. REGEDT32 allows you to sign permissions (what users get to do what). Modifying the registry is potentially dangerous. There is no undue button.

If you already made the mistake of deleting something important or your computer crashes you might be able to rescue your computer by pressing F8 during startup and select Last Known Good Configuration.

Windows also has a backup program (Windows Backup) Which can be used to restore your registry; however, it requires that you actually have a backup schedule going before the problem happened. It is best to back up to an external hard drive. You can also create a backup repair disk (called Automated System Recovery or ASR) to backup your files. However ASR is a last resort. Just type backup in the run box and find your way to the Backup and Restore option where you can follow the instructions for back up.

Other useful tricks include typing the following in the Run box:

msconfig – You will see General and Startup tools, Services, and the ability to modify the Boot.ini tab (holds the information of which operating systems are installed on the computer). If a program that starts when you turn on your computer is causing problems or causing your computer to be too slow you can stop it from automatically starting up here.

msinfo32 – This gives indepth information about your computer system. You can not change any values here, but you can search, export, save and run a number of utilities.

directxdiag – This tool will check to see if all of your drivers have been digitally signed by Microsoft (ensuring they are safe and healthy for your system).

Another tool to try is System Restore. Type this into the run box and follow the prompts to restore your computer to an earlier date when it was working fine.

If you are trying to get rid of a virus– go into safe mode and scan your computer with your antivirus software.

If your computer has crashed, but recovered type chkdsk /r into the run box to check and fix errors on the hard drive.

Next,  type cmd in the run box and type sfc/scannow to check and repair any system files.

If you have a severe computer problem in which there is no normal recovery you will need to re-image your hard drive. This will erase everything on your computer and will start it fresh.

1. Back up all of your files to a CD, DVD or external hard drive.

2. Insert your operating system CD.

3. Restart PC and hit any key.

4. Wait until finished loading and then hit enter.

5. Press F8 key to accept licence.

6. Use arrow keys to highlight partition to re-image and press enter.

7. Follow onscreen directions.


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